Mini Dreish

By Ian
18th May 2021

I guess we all do walks that we have done before or new ones with people that know the way. It is when you see something on a map and decide to go there or like me when you get a walk description from the internet and complete the information from the internet with things you think you know. Maybe it is just me that does that!!

My walk on May 18 was a case in point.

I decided we (being me and walk buddy Grant), would walk the Kilbo Path from Glen Prosen, and when we reach the plateau to then summit Mayar and Dreish before dropping back down to the start point; a nice circular 12 miles. Internet to the ready I found a suitable route on both WalkHighlands and another website The Oikofuge.

Things go wrong from the start

On reviewing the routes my first assumption was that I knew the start point, that being the start of the Ministers Walk at Glenprosen Village. The routes specified a start point of Glen Prosen Lodge; well that has to be in the village doesn’t it? I had a speed read of both the routes and it seemed that the only things I needed to remember was that the Kilbo Path is a right turn off the main path behind a cottage. Simples. No further research needed. I sent Grant the link to the route. Job done.

I packed my bag, first aid kit, map, glasses under layer waterproofs, compass, camera, lunch, drink and kitchen sink.

Undaunted I left home at 9am and drove to my meeting point with Grant at the bottom of Emock Road. I turned up at the arranged meeting time of 9:30am; Grant turned up at 9:30am Grant time, i.e. 9:45am. In fact he was probably 5 minutes early in Grant time.

It was my turn to drive so he and his boots and bag which contained sandwiches, a drink and a waterproof coat, got in. We were off to Glen Prosen.

Warning signs

Arriving at 10:45 we donned our boots and headed straight off. Sure enough, as we left we passed a building describing itself as Glenprosen Hostel. That’s pretty much the same as Glenprosen Lodge.

The route had mentioned Glenprosen Forest was mostly cut down and we duly passed a cut down forest. The route also mentioned going over a wide wooden bridge and we also did this. Eventually, after a couple a miles we reach a cottage; not a derelict cottage but fully operational. Routes get old and things change. It must have been refurbished. There is a track to the right, off the road and up the hills. The route said the turnoff to the Kilbo was signposted Clova. No sign, but that must have gone at the same time the cottage was refurbished. The route map said the path used to go through a forest but that had been felled. There was no sign of a forest behind Craigmeg. They must have grubbed up the roots.

As I said earlier you can persuade yourself you know things and in fact persuade yourself about almost anything.

Errors compounded

We turned right and started a steep ascent. The cottage we had turned at was Craigmeg and the hill we were now ascending was Craigmeg Hill, though that wasn’t knowledge we had as we walked. The path was indistinct and we soon encountered a fence which required climbing. An ounce of common sense would tell you that a long established Drovers’ trail along which cows have been herded for many years before walkers took over, does not have a fence across it that needs climbing.

Nonetheless over and upwards we went until we reached a shoulder and a row of grouse butts. Ahead of us lay a grouse moor where sheep were feasting and lambs frolicking.

At the other end of the moor were two peaks, Mayar and Dreish (not) . Running up to the gap between looked like a path. We turned sharp right down the row of butts and reached a Land Rover track heading towards the distant hills. The track was pretty easy and although there were many turns left and right it was better to follow than start cross country over heather and bog. The track then started to head left towards “Mayar” and another row of grouse butts. When it again turned uphill towards that summit we decided to head right down to the bottom of the gulley that led to the gap between the hills.

We hadn’t consulted either map or route description since leaving the main path. Why would we? We could see where we were going.

Doubt, confusion and changeable weather

The weather through the morning had been patchy and a bit of a fashion show as we switched between coat on, coat off, hat on, hat off, as showers came through, soaking us then the sun drying us. The forecast had predicted this. I decided that suntan cream was a sensible option as the sun felt quite strong and the rain seemed to clear away entirely. I was walking in my yellow t-shirt; very fashionable and easily seen.

Around 1:30pm we found a couple of rocks which were ideal for a lunch stop. We ate our sandwiches and enjoyed a rest. The flies all seemed to decide my yellow t-shirt was a nice landing area and were rather quickly turning it black as their numbers increased. Tip: don’t wear yellow in the summer. It attracts every bug known to man.

As I set off the flies took to the air and Grant kindly started smoking, which probably encouraged their departure. We were now off path, and walking through heather and bog plants over watercourses.

We reached “the path” up to the gap between the hills. It turned out to be a stream. Onward we waded until eventually the top was reached and with it a fence line. We were somewhat confused. To our left wasn’t Mayar and to our right wasn’t Dreish. In front of us wasn’t the other side of the Kilbo Path which descended the Shank of Drumfollow. The view ahead was across Clova to Loch Brandy, which had moved everything about so drastically.

Realisation dawns

A consultation of the map indicated we were between Cairn Inks and Cairn of Bairns. We immediately renamed them Mini Mayar and Mini Dreish. Having walked up through a grouse moor on Glen Logie and not the Kilbo Path, we were a good 3 miles east of where we should have been.

That came as a bit of a shock.

As we stood dazed and confused a rain storm was heading our way from the west. Coats back on, we were again soaked in seconds. We decided we had better summit something to salvage the day and Cairn of Bairns (aka Mini Dreish), was selected. A fairly steep but short climb got us to the cairn on the summit. We tarried in the rain, somewhat crestfallen, wondering how best to get back.

The rain was on for the afternoon, it was 2:20pm and we had a 3 hour walk back. There were no paths to be seen so we headed down the hill through the heather. Grant had a minor fall onto his rear (no damage done) and we were soon back down on the moor tramping through more bog and heather. Progress was slow and the uneven ground was creating a more than even chance of turning an ankle or knee. We decided to head for the track we had come along and eventually we found the Land Rover track.

Adventures over, it was a long wet tramp back to our car. The rain continued to fall and thunder and lightning flashed and boomed out a couple of times as we made our way back.

It was two sodden and tired walkers who arrived back at the car at 5:20pm.

Poetic justice

I had been recording the route on my OS map app. Without my glasses on, I selected an option which I thought was to finish and save the route. In fact it deleted it. Well, there is probably some poetic justice in that. As pretty a walk as it was, at least until it started raining, there is little desire to repeat it and I can’t see it becoming the next Loch Brandy and the Snub among the rambling population.

On waking on Wednesday morning, I went to the computer and uploaded my photos. I looked at the GPS data and having converted it to OS co ordinates was able to plot our approximate route. More importantly it showed clearly on the map where we should have started.

On the plus side we know what we are doing next week.